by Jessica Fleshman
Today was our longest day so far, but it was very eye opening and rewarding! We started the day by going to Crackland. The name of this place says it all. The people here are addicted to crack and live very poor lives because they sell everything they have to get that five-minute high. When we first arrived, we sang some songs and prayed with a group that has been working weekly with the people in Crackland. It was great to get to encourage them and pray for them during the short time we had. We left there and went to where all of the drug lords stand and sell crack.
As we walked up they had money out and were bargaining with a person at a table that had crack laying on it. Josh gave a short but powerful speech to them about how we need to leave the worldly things behind because God is so much better! As we prayed with them before we left, they started to close their eyes and covered up their crack out of respect for us. I know that God is working there, so please continue to pray for them!
After we left the drug lords, we continued to walk and entered the little hole in a wall that leads to a totally different world than anything we had ever seen. We made three different stops to sing and feed the people there. On our second stop, there was a girl who was in tears and wanting to sing a song, so Josh went over and talked to her. She was hiding from the law in Crackland, and Josh was able to explain to her that living in this chosen prison of drugs, and who knows what else, is worse than living in a government prison under the freedom of God! On our third stop, our hearts were broken as we held babies who were covered in a fungus and had to watch four-year-olds walk through a line to get food because they were starving. It was great to get to see the relationships that the church is building with the people of Crackland so that we know these people will be looked after. It was hard to say goodbye to them, but it was time for us to move on.
After Crackland, we went to Union Church for lunch and had an hour to relax, debrief and prepare for the next task. We left Union and went to our last day of VBS in the City of God.
Today, we got to tell them all about what Jesus did for them on the cross and how much he loves us and wants us to be a part of his family. We had basically the same 35 kids that had come the previous two days, so by this point we had built relationships with all of them. It was still crazy to move them from making bracelets, to the memory verse, to a skit showing how what Christ did on the cross washes us white as snow. Our team is top notch, and they were able to show these kids love all at the same time!
After our last gathering, it was time to say goodbye to these kids. It was just as hard for them as it was for us because they didn’t want us to leave. They stayed for 30 minutes just to hang out, get our Facebook names, and write how much they love us on our name tags or arms! When it was finally time to get on the bus, the kids were trying to get on with us or trying to pull us off. It was great to see that they knew we loved them, but it was really difficult to say goodbye when they didn’t want to either! As we drove away, they ran after us. They were great kids, and we will remember them always! Please keep them in your prayers as they need to continue to hear about God, what he did for them and how He loves them!
After VBS, we headed to Rio das Pedras to worship at a church there. This church fed us, and then we headed down to have a time of worship with them. Josh shared from the book of Matthew on how we should forgive our brothers and try to reconcile with them. After Josh, Chandler and Nate shared their testimonies on how God has changed them! Then Sergio, the lead pastor of that church, got up and shared his testimony and how the church started. Finally, it was time to say goodbye to these kids and this church as well. With a quick hug, we were back on the bus head back to the pousada to think about the day and get a good night’s sleep.